TSB was this week branded the worst bank for customer service, slightly below RBS/NatWest. Handing it the dubious honour were users of the MoneySavingExpert website, although its poor vote may well reflect the high number of fed-up customers still feeling disaffected after being shunted from Lloyds Banking Group last year.
Topping the table was online bank First Direct – owned by HSBC – whose customers are more than twice as likely to rate their bank's service as "great" compared with those of TSB.
The split from Lloyds was six months ago but accountholders shifted to TSB are more disappointed by the service they have received than those who remained with Lloyds. TSB has been busy marketing itself as a community-focused enterprise with an emphasis on local banking, but it seems it has yet to persuade customers of its value.
The website first did a similar survey in 2008, and since then Spanish-owned Santander has moved from rock bottom to 2nd place – but only for its Santander 123 account. But that shows what can be done.
Banking insiders tell me that it is industry practice to do the minimum on customer service as it doesn't make that much difference to profitability. In short, fed-up – and potentially costly – customers leave, while millions remain despite the poor service because of apathy, or on the assumption that all banks are the same.
Are all banks the same? They will all say they are different, but most of the claims have an extremely hollow ring to them.
However, while everyone has a story of poor service from their bank, is there anyone who has a positive one? Did a bank worker go an extra mile to help you out, or did your bank point out that your savings were in its worst-paying account and should be switched to its best-paying?
I'd be glad to hear your positive stories, if you have one. It would be a novelty to print some actual good news about a bank for a change.